Thanks to my last post, I learned about all these fun engineering events much further ahead of time than normal! I could use my great time management skills to plan ahead for “The Future of Engineering Education” lecture by Dean Qu - a wide topic that he handled with many jokes, historical lessons, and deep appreciation for the subject.
Dean Qu discussed how higher ed. has changed through every turning point in American history. In the colonial era, the growing colonies needed ministers and civic leaders, so elite colleges opened up to serve those needs. After the Civil War, reconstruction and industrialization sparked a need for more practical studies like **engineering** and this was when Tufts started offering engineering classes! That was way back in 1865. After World War II, veterans needed to get an education to rejoin the workforce and did so with the help of the GI bill. Also, women wanted the opportunity to get an education after joining the workforce while men went overseas. Higher education started opening up to a much wider demographic of people.
In order to stay relevant in the 21st century, Dean Qu outlined 4 important points that all students should graduate with. He believes that Tufts engineers should be very adaptive, innovative with entrepreneurial skills, leaders with strong communication skills, and civically minded. The nature of the lecture embodied much of what the engineering school vibe has - an interdisciplinary (in this case historical) approach to provide context for the discussion at hand, there were people constantly questioning the status quo and innovating to solve the problem, and many people at all levels, including undergrads, grad students, professors, alumni, admissions officers, and administrators, were working together and invested in the outcome.
Last year I took a course in the Education department called School and Society, and I was immersed into a culture that really questioned what it means to have a “good” education. Are there things all students need to know? What really counts as my passion? How do I learn best? Unfortunately, I cannot answer those questions that concretely, but I can say that I am very impressed and appreciative that students, professors and administrators understand that how people learn is an important conversation to have. I’m still not a robot! I can’t regurgitate answers, I ask stupid questions sometimes, and I’m wrong frequently. However, I’ve lost a lot of my shame because the academic environment is more focused on how to learn best, rather than just instructing, as Dean Qu explained in his lecture.
I bumped into my System Dynamics and Controls professor, Bill Messner, at the lecture. He practices many of the qualities that Dean Qu was talking about. He has premade lecture notes for students to fill in and he steps through every concept in a methodical way that appeals to many learning styles. He has stretching breaks during quizzes. He brings snacks to his office hours, which are conveniently the night before a problem-set is due so that we can check our answers with our classmates. At these office hours, I have had discussions with him about everything from recent politics to diversity at Tufts to John Oliver talks and the NCAA Final Four. He’s so easy to talk to!
The Future of Engineering Education is a heavy topic that covers a lot more than what I’ve discussed here. I’ve thought about it quite a lot. After taking an education class, talking with many friends and professors, and explaining the Tufts vibe and what makes this school great through tour guiding, I’ve come to the conclusion that my Tufts education is serving me very well.
That was anti-clamatic, whoops, baby Jumbos if you come to Tufts then we can chat about it or you can reply in the comments!
So baby Jumbos: the admissions officers read your applications thoroughly and decided that you would be a great fit for this community. I hope you are ready for a relatively small engineering school that will provide a multi-faceted, stimulating and well-balanced college experience. Congratulations to all of you and I am so excited to meet you guys on Jumbo Days and on campus next fall!
Feature Image - I ran into so many great people at the lecture! From left: junior mechanical engineering majors Meredith Reynolds and Lauren McIsaac, me, admissions counselor and Tufts MechE alum Briana Bouchard, Prof. Bill Messner, and admissions counselor and Tufts alum Yulia Korovikov.